Smart on Crime
Rhode Islanders, wherever they are, want to feel, and be, safe. In their neighborhoods. When they visit the state’s urban areas, including Providence.
On the whole, Rhode Island, including its cities, is a safe place. Compared to other states our violent crime rate is low. That said, there is work to do, but that work needs a strategy — a real strategy — to address violent crime in our neighborhoods. We can’t go back thirty years in time and say we’re going to lock everybody up for as long as possible. It’s too expensive, it won’t work, and it’s not right.
As Attorney General, I’ll bring a “smart,” three-part approach to reducing violent crime, focused on three equally important areas: prevention, focused enforcement, and prisoner re-entry. This was the approach we implemented nationwide, with bipartisan support, when I was U.S. Attorney during the Obama Administration. It has a track record. It works.
Crime prevention takes multiple forms, and requires engagement across government. As Attorney General, I’ll make sure that the Office engages communities impacted by violent crime, building relationships of trust in good times that can be relied on in bad times. We’ll be in the community on a scheduled, regular basis, not only assisting residents with everyday quality of life issues, but, along with our community partners, acting as positive role models for young people. Residents will know their Attorney General, and the members of the Office. I’ll create a community advisory board that will help inform crime prevention and other law-enforcement policy. And I’ll strongly support diversion programs that give young, non-violent offenders at a fork in the road the chance to make it right, avoiding the contact with the criminal justice system that is so hard to come back from.
Focused enforcement means directing our efforts at those who are truly driving violent crime. Law enforcement knows who the “shooters” are. When I was U.S. Attorney, we created the Urban Violent Crime Initiative with our law enforcement partners, and built cases against some of the state’s most violent offenders. Removing these comparatively few violent criminals from urban neighborhoods can significantly reduce violent crime, not only by virtue of the fact that they’re gone, but also because their ability to influence others, particularly young people, is eliminated. As Attorney General, I’ll continue this work with our state and federal law enforcement partners. At the same time, I’ll make sure our handling of cases involving non-violent offenders makes sense, and that charging and sentencing recommendations are fair and appropriate given the conduct and individual characteristics of the defendant involved.
Prisoner re-entry is the third, and equally important part of an effective violent crime reduction strategy. As Attorney General, I’ll use the full power of the Office to advocate for effective re-entry programs, as I did when I was U.S. Attorney. I’ll continue to work to make sure that people coming home from prison have opportunities to join the workforce. With the exception of roughly thirty people at the ACI serving life without parole, everyone incarcerated there is coming home at some point. That’s a fact. If we don’t get them back into the workforce, and fast, there’s a high likelihood they’re going back to prison. That’s not good for anybody: them, their victim, and the public that bears the cost of their re-incarceration.